You never step in the same river twice.
Please step aside so I can see the sun.
We do what we are, we know what gets done.
All the way down we read the posted signs.
All the Abandon hopes and Here you are
in Circle One all the way down through Nine.
Winter thaws, the sun flares up like a torch
raking the bayou for runaway slaves
who stand their ground, moving only by choice,
fleeing Madison to delay the vote
to undo all their fathers died to do,
moving through Illinois, down river.
The governor is the pawn of the rich.
He may have the numbers but not the souls
of any in the state house but his own
claques clucking American mandarin,
and soon they may bring in predator drones
tested already in Afghanistan.
The people fill the open space he sees.
He weighs his chances for reelection,
his inaugural words his sepulchre . . .
Heraclitus knew what Diogenes
discovered. The sun is like a river.
Every wall in the way of water falls.
The powers-that-were banished the poet.
Dante stood outside the gate in the wall.
There the way down was the only way back.
Madison, Florence. New Orleans, Kabul.
Redress of grievances, the poet’s No,
slave auction blocks, wilderness that conquers.
Go with me . . . into the streets. Barricades
come later, if the powerful decide
to risk their power. That will come around.
And these words . . . What do they know mute men knew?
A father’s instinct to quit the coal mines
before his friends went down to be blown up.
Always tragedy, and out of it comes
knowledge. Give it away and it comes back.
Then the bosses could not stop the union
from becoming the force it had to be
so the living could feed their families,
be remembered down through generations . . .
(18 February 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander